Now that you know ketchup can be used for shining copper and repairing hair, or that vodka can be used to repel insects and freshen laundry, you may have been wondering what tasks you can get done for cheap with other household items. Since May is National Vinegar Month (did you forget??), we thought we'd take a closer look at this inexpensive, versatile good.
According to the Vinegar Institute, the useful stuff was probably discovered by accident (most wine drinkers know what happens when you leave a bottle sitting around too long). In fact the word vinegar comes from a French translation for "sour wine." Over the centuries vinegar has been produced from many stocks, including molasses, dates, sorghum, fruits, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, grains and more. But the principle is the same: you get acetic acid (a.k.a. vinegar) after first fermenting natural sugars to alcohol, and then fermenting again.
As Michael de Jong, TDG's Zen Cleaner and author of the Clean series of books, points out, vinegar has been pressed into service for many uses over the centuries. It has been prized as a foodstuff, condiment, preservative and natural remedy.
What's so great about vinegar? Besides being effective, vinegar is cheap and widely available. It is non-toxic and lasts for a very long time without losing strength. It does not pollute land, air or water or combust. It's much safer to have under your sink than bleach, ammonia or other toxic cleaning products. Many folks also swear by the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Instead of spending money on window cleaning chemicals -- especially ones that include toxic or potentially toxic chemicals -- make your own! Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking.
Got grass stains? No problemo, says Michael de Jong. Make a mixture of one-third cup white vinegar and two-thirds cup water. Apply the solution to the stain and blot with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until you've removed as much green as possible, and then launder as usual.
When your big washing day comes around, toss in a capful of white vinegar. Your colors will come out bolder and your whites whiter. If you've recently had an encounter with a skunk, it will take more than a capful.
After washing, get a sharper crease in pants by dipping the cloth in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Then wring out the cloth and press the creases. Now you look like Dilbert!
According to this TDG community member:
"Spots in carpets often remove with a simple dilution of one part vinegar, one-sixteenth part lemon juice and eight parts distilled water."
Thanks for the tip!
According to the green team at Ideal Bite, vinegar can help remove bacteria and pesticide residues from fruits and veggies. Mix three parts water to one part white vinegar, and dispense in a spray bottle. Then rinse with water. The site claims the wash kills 98% of bacteria on produce.
Luca di Filippo/Istock
Having trouble getting that annoying sticky label residue off a product? Or accidentally glue something together? Vinegar can be used as a solvent to dissolve many common adhesives. Vinegar is also good at cutting grease.
If you often get foot or leg cramps in the middle of the night, you may want to try boosting your potassium levels. There are a number of great superfoods rich in potassium (way beyond bananas). Some folks have also suggested trying this remedy: Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey and a cup of hot water. Then drink before bed. Yummy!
Some have also said they were able to cure pesky hiccups instantly by swallowing a teaspoon of vinegar. Hey, if the Roman legions drank it, it must be good for you!
We love cats here at TDG (even LOLcats!). But sometimes you don't want them doing their business in the kids' sandbox. Or in your flower bed. According to HomeEnvy, a simple solution is to pour vinegar around the edges of the area you want to protect every few months.
How do you use vinegar?
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